“Band-Ten-Hut!” the band director said as the band got in position to start marching. “Big Red!” they responded on a Tuesday afternoon, eager and ready to practice for the upcoming Friday’s game.
With their Lots of Love (LOL) shirts, the band marches down the Chelo Huerta Field on Fridays carrying the school spirit with them. With many years of tradition, the Big Red now faces the school year full of love, and changes, with a new band director, Jonathan Sims.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s really cool to be part of something that’s really historic and has a lot of traditions,” Sims said.
“We’re at a decent size which is awesome. Some schools have only like about 20 kids in the band,” said the director. “We’ve got a dance team and a color guard team which is very unique to us, so it’s been really good so far.”
Many new freshmen are excited to play for a high school band. “It’s a great experience. We do much more exciting songs than in middle school,” freshman Itai Aarons said.
The changes caused some controversy with the older members who believe some of the band’s identity is being lost. “Our stand culture is not as ‘lit’ and there’s been miscommunication in terms of what we normally do with the school body and how we support the athletic teams. Hillsborough has a unique culture and blend of people, and I don’t think people realize that when they go and try to change stuff that we cater to our school population,” band captain Simone Francis said. “In order for everyone to be satisfied with the results [of the changes] then it really takes everyone to communicate with each other and respect their opinions.”
Students describe Sims as very organized. However, some upperclassmen say the change from previous director Michael Lebrias isn’t automatic. “It’s probably for the best, but it’s taking me a lot to adjust” senior Chris Poole said regarding the changes. “Sims is a lot more involved. I kind of wish they would let us know more about what’s going on and what are the problems we’re facing.”
The band is keeping the same traditional stand tunes known by all the spectators during games and pep rallies, such as “Let’s Go” and “Shout it Out”, but the show is brand new, featuring iconic songs, such as the opener, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis, and other classics from artists such as Elton John and Queen. “We’ve all grown closer dealing with the certain changes that have been happening” said Francis. “I feel like even with those changes, whether or not we agree with them, the true identity of the band will always just keep on going. Our culture is something bigger than any individual.”